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CSR Limited – Manual handling project

Juliet Maynard, National WHS and Injury Management Advisor will focus on the enablers for success for the CSR Limited manual handling project. CSR identified manual handling as causing the greatest number of incidents and injuries across the organisation. It was clear this needed to be a priority and something had to be done.

Watch the recording of the webinar, or download the presentation (PDF, 2477.11 KB) .

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    • CSR Manual handling project

      Queensland Musculoskeletal Disorders Symposium

      Presented by:

      Speaker: Juliet Maynard, National WHS and Injury Management Advisor

      Speaker: Allicia Bailey, Manager Engagement Services, Chair

      Juliet Maynard:

      Good afternoon. Thank you everyone for joining in and listening to the CSR Manual Handling Project and our journey. We've been on this journey – we're into our third year now. It's a really good story, so I'm really happy to be sharing it with you.

      For those of you who may not be familiar with CSR, we are a building manufacturing company. CSR used to be the Colonial Sugar Refinery and we used to manufacture and sell sugar. When you're in the supermarket, you'll see that the CSR branding is still on the bags of sugar. But we sold our sugar business in 2010. I'm not quite sure how, but sometime a long time before that, we diversified into building products. I'm not quite sure about the link, but that's what happened. Now, we have over 3,000 people across Australia and New Zealand and we have five main business arms. Those business arms are Gyprock, Bradford Insulation, PGH bricks and pavers and we've recently gone into a joint venture with Boral in our bricks business, Monier roof tiles and our Viridian glass business. So it's quite diverse. We manufacture and distribute all of those products.

      As we've mentioned in the intro and in the video, CSR did identify, around 2012, that manual handling was our biggest injury risk. The numbers showed us that 37% of all reported injuries related to manual handling; 44% of our workers' compensation claims were relating to manual handling and the average cost of a manual handling workers' compensation claim was $51,222. So that was a significant cost to the organisation. But there are hidden costs in having a claim to the individual. There are personal costs, like what the person can't do at home. The personal implications for people far outweigh those financial costs.

      It was pretty clear that we needed to do something about it. So as an organisation, we set ourselves a challenge, which was to reduce manual handling injuries by 25% every year. There was no end date set to that. It's every year. We were looking for significant and sustainable improvement.

      It's all good and well to set a challenge and to set a goal, but how do we do that? It was thrown to me to say here you go; this is your baby. What do you think we need to do? How are we going to go about this? So a group of us got together and we didn't really know where to start. We certainly didn't have a clear path to a solution. So we did a literature review. We consulted with other organisations in our industry to see what they were doing. We looked at the legislation. We spoke to people internally. We looked at the codes of practice. We looked at our existing tools and processes. And we were not particularly enlightened by any of it. We found that our industry was not managing this very well at all. We were managing it very well at all. The legislation – and it was very clear that we had to manage it. But how do we go about that?

      I think, really, we ended up saying we just have to go back to basics and we have to keep it simple and we have to think about the basic risk management process. So the basic risk management process being we identify a hazard, we assess the risk, we put some controls into place and we review how effective those controls are. That's it. Simple. It's not rocket science. So how do we go about that?

      That was our starting point. Then what are the outcomes? What do we want to get from this? So we made a wish list, really. We wanted to develop and implement effective manual handling strategies and tools. We wanted to coach, mentor, engage and empower our people. We didn't want to pay for consultants and external industry expert manual handling, whizz-bang wizards to come in and help us. We wanted to develop our people so that we were able to keep that talent internally, moving forward. We looked at a really basic risk management approach. We kept it simple. We wanted to eliminate manual handling risks altogether, wherever possible. So we were really focussed on the hierarchy of controls. We wanted credibility in our process and our tools. And we really wanted simplicity, usability and internal ownership of the process. So now we have our wish list, we had to hop to it.

      The process that we used and that got refined over time as the project moved forward was to, first up, get senior management commitment. I was leading the project and I would meet with our senior management team and let them know that this is the plan and this is the target and get their input and ensure that they were on board. They were all absolutely on board. There was no push back anywhere. We decided on a site based coaching approach because we wanted to develop our people. We needed engagement. We needed to empower our people if we were really going to make change and make headway. So we really needed to involve the guys who do these manual handling tasks. We called the manual handling champions.

      I drove the project and so I would call one of our sites, who were okay, when do you need to come and do a manual handling risk assessment with your team? It will be a coaching based approach. The site would identify a couple of champions. They would prioritise and identify what task they wanted to do and it was entirely up to them how they chose their task. It might have been something that they'd recently had an injury. It might have been something that was just too difficult for them to tackle and they didn't know where to start. It might have been something on their risk register that had a high risk and was next thing on the list to address. So I let them choose what the manual handling task was going to be and who was going to be involved.

      From my perspective, it was really important to have in the room some task experts; so the guys who do the task, their supervisor or team leader involved in that process and a decision maker. So either the safety manager for the site or the site manager or the engineering manager or somebody who could make decisions and make things happen and drive the process moving forward. Often, there would be four to six of us sitting around, carrying out a manual handling risk assessment together. I would ask the guys to film the task before I came onto site. You can spend a lot of time faffing about, waiting for the task to happen, the truck to be loaded, the particular product to come off the line, whatever it is you're doing. So they would plan ahead. They would get some video footage of the task and we would play that footage up on a big screen on a continuous loop for the whole time that we were doing the risk assessment. We could pause it. We could stop and talk about a certain component of it. People like me, who are not experts in the task, can ask a million questions and see it. We can slow it down. It's a really valuable tool for us to film it ahead of time. It saved time, it was efficient and it was highly effective.

      We developed a manual handling risk assessment form, like a tool. We're onto version 18 of that now. So that's definitely evolving over time. As the guys use it, they provide feedback and that improves. We started with the manual handling risk assessment tool that is in the back of the code of practice. I'm not sure if any of you have ever used that. It is incredibly long and dreary and dry and complicated. Trying to get people to focus on that – its intentions are great, but trying to get people to focus on that for very long was really challenging. So partway through the development of the tool process, I stumbled across PErforM. I came up and I did a PErforM workshop up here in Brisbane and was absolutely delighted at how simple PErforM was and how I could get rid of eight pages worth of postures and angles and tables and charts that bored everybody to tears; and I could replace it with five risks that make a manual handling task hazardous and a body chart. So we could incorporate all of that in one really easy, simple process. So we've incorporated PErforM – it's fair and square embedded into our manual handling risk assessment process. It's incredibly successful. The guys love it. It's easy. It's visual. It's good.

      We go through the risk assessment. We risk score the process using our risk matrix, allowing us to prioritise components of this task. As a group, we would brainstorm potential controls and we would always start at the top of the hierarchy. That was really, really important. Often the easiest solutions are at the bottom of the hierarchy and, sometimes, the least effective. So we didn't start there. We went right to the top of the hierarchy. The first question that we would ask is can we eliminate this task altogether? I said to the guys think outside the square. Think big. Don't worry about money. Don't worry about the logistics of it. Let's get the ideas on the table to eliminate this task altogether. If it means robots, if it means fancy new conveyor systems, if it means an entirely different system; let's put those ideas on the table. As soon as people had the freedom to think outside the box and they felt comfortable to think outside the box, all sorts of amazing ideas would land on the table. So that was our starting point; can we eliminate the task altogether?

      If we can't, can we eliminate the manual handling from this task altogether? That brought up another way to think about a solution to the problem. We worked down through the hierarchy of controls that way.

      As I said in that video, I think that that is really one of the key enablers to this program; is starting at the top of the hierarchy.

      It really was a brainstorming session. We would put everything down on the page. We would then go through and say well, what's feasible? This is where you really need the full scope of task experts through to decision makers on the site, because there's all sorts of considerations that means something may or may not be feasible. There may be cost restraints. There may be time restraints. They may have tried some of those things, historically, and they didn't work. There are engineers in the room who can say oh no, that type of whizzbang gadget isn't going to work in that particular piece of plant. So you really do need the input from the broad spectrum of people in the room to understand the feasibility of all these solutions that were put on the table.

      Once we understood which ones were feasible, we would develop an action plan and assign people and timeframes to that action plan. Again, it's really important to have the decision makers in the room because there is no point assigning Davo to research a new type of conveyor belt – Davo's the guy who runs the machine – when he spends eight hours, five days a week operating the machine and he has no time to go and sit on a computer and find out about different types of conveyor belts and call a supplier and organise for them to come in and show us their products. So it was really important to have the decision makers in the room so that they could enable the action plan to happen. And allow Davo two hours every week to get off the line and to come in and research this new type of conveyor, for example. And sometimes support them to do that too. These guys are often doing new tasks; things that they're not so familiar with. He may not be comfortable calling suppliers and asking them to come in. So he might need his manager or his supervisor to support him to do that. But it was really important that we got all sorts of people involved in the action plan and all sorts of people involved in the solution. I found when people's ideas were put on the table; they were allowed to explore their ideas. They were given the resources to do that. Then those ideas turned into action and real life solutions. That's incredibly powerful. Across a whole site. It's incredibly powerful for that individual and for their team and for the whole site. That was also one of the enablers.

      The site would own and implement their action plan. So they would transfer this risk assessment and the actions that came from it to their risk register and they would track it, just like they track any other risk on site. I would step away at that point. I would drive and facilitate the project and I would coach them in doing a really good quality manual handling risk assessment. But they then implemented the action plan. I would check in with them every now and again. They would come back to me if they identified some barriers or needed to talk something through. But they would own it and they would drive it. So they would implement the controls and, once those controls are implemented, they would determine what was an appropriate timeframe and the best way to re-evaluate whether those controls were effective or not. Just like you would with any other risk and any other controls you've implemented.

      So that's the model that we followed. It took a bit of refining. The first one we did probably took five hours or something. It's not realistic to spend that much time doing a single risk assessment and to take four to six people away from their normal jobs. So we've definitely refined the process. But that is the model. It takes around an hour-and-a-half now to complete that process, depending on the level of experience in doing risk assessments of the team and how complicated the task is.

      I went around – we have about 130 sites. In the first 12 months, I went to about 80 of our sites. So I was getting to a few sites a week across the country. I think now we've probably done about 200 of those coaching sessions. They are coaching sessions. So the next time the site needs to do it, I don't necessarily go. Sometimes I need to go back and do a refresher. But on the whole, those people who are included in the coaching session become the manual handling champions for the site and those people are able to drive the process at their sites, moving forward.

      Audience member: Juliet, just on those points that you've touched on. Can you give us any insight as to how you actually got the decision makers' support and cooperation, so they had that buy in coming to the table and could actually be open to hearing those ideas and actually pushing them forward, in addition to the champion themselves?
      Juliet Maynard: It actually started with them. It was our board and our executive team and our CEO who looked at all of the data and identified that manual handling was our biggest injury risk and that, clearly, we weren't doing much about it. So they came to me to say what are we going to do about this? So the process started with them. They were looking for some help as to how to approach it. So I pulled together a project group and, together, we came up with a model. But there were no barriers in getting that done at all. They identified it was a problem and they drove it.
      Audience member: Just leading on from that; you said that sharing these wins built this sense of empowerment amongst the staff and they built their confidence in saying hey, why don't we try this or we could do this another way. Did you guys have a mechanism for sharing the wins at particular sites amongst other sites across Australia, just to help build that empowerment and build momentum to get more buy in?
      Juliet Maynard: That has been quite challenging and it's something that we are still working on. Within a business, we have five main businesses. So say within our bricks business, for example, they have management meetings where the various people from all the sites would come together and they would sahre what they're working on and their solutions. Often, something that one site's working on is incredibly relevant to another site. So they would also share the risk assessment and the team would then have a look at that and make any changes they needed to. So yes. We have a safety system where all of that stuff can get loaded up. So if a site is about to do a risk assessment on the manual handling aspects of driving a forklift, for example, they would probably go into the SharePoint site, check whether there's one been done already and they can use that as their starting point.
      Audience member: Was the adoption of these types of controls that were implemented done across all sites, where applicable?
      Juliet Maynard Yes.

      Juliet Maynard:

      Okay. So I think I'm starting to lose track now. Not that that's a bad thing. I think it's probably a good thing. I'm starting to lose track of how many tasks and how many risk assessments and I am required less and less to go and do coaching sessions now. The sites have really taken this on board and they own it and they run it and they need me less and less. Which is absolutely the objective and it's fabulous.

      So looking at the outcomes that we have achieved so far. In terms of our lead indicators, we have found that there's exponential risk assessment growth as the sites in the business become more independent and more skilled in this process. As time has gone by, we build the process into our safety plans. So CSR has a safety plan every year. Every business has a safety plan. Every site has a safety plan. And it all connects and follows through. In the CSR safety plan, we have a target of 25% reduction every year in manual handling injuries. So the business has to have that same target. A site has to have the same target. Then the site has to say well, how are we going to achieve that? The way that they are expected to achieve that is by setting themselves a number of manual handling risk assessments that they're going to do in this 12 month period.

      CSR recommend that every site does five. That doesn't sound too much. To me, that's quite doable. But it can take time to implement if you're looking at high end controls, if you're looking at putting conveyor belts in instead of moving things. There's capital and there's time and there's research involved. So five risk assessments. They need to be on their game to be able to achieve completion of five manual handling risk assessments and implementation of the controls. Some sites are doing really well with it. Some sites are struggling with it. But that's normal. It's the sites that are struggling that I'm checking in on and trying to understand what are your barriers. Do we need to do another coaching session? What's going on at your site that's making this hard?

      So there's no big sticks. We don't need to have a big stick. I think the sites are seeing the benefits for themselves. It's about those of us who are in a position to support – understanding what's the problem and trying to help them overcome it.

      So sites have developed their own targets. Most of them are on track. Their management teams check in with them on how they're tracking with their safety plans anyway. That's normal business process and this just becomes part of that. So the senior management are saying how are you going with your manual handling risk assessments? I saw that you did this one last week. How are you going with implementing the controls? So there is visibility up and down through the organisation. They set their own targets and they get tracked every month at a CSR level. So they have to report in on their targets every month and that gets tracked and published across the organisation, nationally.

      We have also included manual handling as a standard agenda item in safety committee meetings. So every site has a safety committee meeting every month. Well, they do ten a year, so most months. Manual handling is on the agenda. The purpose of that is to just keep it front of mind for the people who've got actions and who are trying to implement those actions or those controls; they need to report into the safety committee on how they're going with that. If they've got some barriers or they're hitting challenges, to put that on the table with the safety committee and help to get some solutions to that. I think that's made a big difference too. It means that it can't just get brushed under the carpet and forgotten. It is talked about every month. If you've got an action, you're a bit like oh shit, I've got to report back on how I'm going with that research on that conveyor. I'd better get onto it.

      At the best of our sites, they have developed something called a manual handling focus group. We actually have internal awards across all of our values and safety is one of CSR's values. Last year, the site that won the safety values award was because they have this amazing manual handling focus group. They have about six guys and they invite different people in. They do manual handling risk assessment together, using that exact process that we've used. The site manager gives them three hours every Wednesday in the middle of the day. The group comes together and they either do a new risk assessment or follow up on reactions from the previous ones that they've done or reviewed the controls that they've already implemented. So they have time every week to come together and just focus on their manual handling risk assessments, the implementation and the reviewing of the controls. They have a big whiteboard that's in their meeting room that's just for manual handling stuff and they're tracking what they're doing. That's best practice.

      Those guys did that off their own bat. They are doing incredibly well. They were a bit of a basket case in the manual handling space two or three years ago. Our CEO actually said to the site manager you've got to do something about this. This is not okay. People are getting hurt. So there was pressure for them to do it because they were hurting people, because they were in the spotlight from senior management and they cared about it. They were then empowered with the skills to do something about it. So they drive that and I'm just so impressed. Every time I go there, it's like can I sit in on one of your meetings? It's great. So I think that's best practice.

      Audience member: We've just got a question coming through. Someone asking what you use as your lead indicators? Do you have any examples?
      Juliet Maynard: We have lost time injury frequency rate and total recordable injury frequency rate across the organisation as our standard. There are lag indicators. Did you say lead or lag? Lead? Our standard lead indicators – this is not specific to manual handling, but it does incorporate manual handling, are work instruction reviews, safety walks, some of which have a manual handling focus. [long pause] there's five of them. Toolbox talks, safety committee meetings and there's one more. So the safety committee meetings have a manual handling component. We have a safety walk that has a manual handling component and the work instruction reviews all have a manual handling component too. So it dovetails.

      Juliet Maynard

      So just looking at our lead indicators here. I guess another one – we don't track it quite as religiously as the others – is the number of risk assessments done per site. You can see there that's the dark blue. We weren't even measuring that in 2011. The numbers are just growing year on year. The light blue is the number of sites that are regularly doing risk assessments and the red is the sites that now have got manual handling on their safety committee agendas. So that's fantastic.

      In terms of our lag indicators, we measure lost time injuries and recordable injuries. There was a lot of long hanging fruit in the recordable injuries space. After 12 months, we had a 48% improvement. Now, we've had a 68% improvement in our recordable injury rates, which is great. In terms of our lost time injuries; they were much slower to respond to this program. We put that down to the fact that the lost time injuries are more serious and it's likely that they were going to go down when we started to really implement some good, high end controls; when we were able to start eliminating manual handling or doing some good engineering controls. They take time. So we didn't see any change probably in the first 12 to 18 months in our lost time injury numbers. But now that we are – I just measured this this morning, actually, and I was just amazed. We've had an 87% improvement since the beginning of the program in our lost time injuries. I'm really pleased to say this year we've only had one lost time injury due to manual handling.

      It's pretty clear that manual handling is no longer CSR's biggest injury risk. We've put a whole lot of effort into this space. Now we need to keep it going and we need to keep the energy on it. But we've got other things we now need to be addressing. Not that we haven't been addressing other things, but this has certainly been a focus for a while. It's great.

      Audience member: Juliet, can I just ask you what education or training did you guys provide to your staff or the champions themselves for them to be able to participate and understand the risk management framework and the processes involved with that?
      Juliet Maynard: Sure. It was a coaching session. There was not a training session per se that we provided. We did it on the go. they picked the task; we went through it together. We went through a manual handling risk assessment together. it would take longer when we had inexperienced groups of people who didn't understand how to do a risk assessment, who didn't understand the hierarchy of controls, who didn't understand how to use our risk matrix. But that's okay. We worked through it at the time. It's not rocket science. These guys deal with this stuff daily. They may not deal with it to this extent every day, but they are familiar with the process; most of them. So it was very much an on the job coaching session. We didn't go through formal competency based training or any of that stuff. We do have a safety leadership program in our business that many of these guys would have done over the years, which covers basic risk management training. But not all of them have been to that. It was very real.

      Juliet Maynard

      So two years later – I've given you some of these numbers already; 87% reduction in our lost time injuries due to manual handling, a 68% reduction in our recordable injuries due to manual handling, a 45% reduction in our manual handling claim numbers, 38% reduction in our manual handling related workers' compensation claims. Which indicates probably two things; that our manual handling injuries are less severe when they're happening and maybe we're managing them better. We now have approximately 350 manual handling champions trained across the organisation out of just over 3,000 people. Of course, people come and go; so that's always changing. But that's fantastic. That's very powerful.

      The process and the tool have been refined and simplified. As I said, version 18 is what we're on with our tool. So always open to feedback after every session as to what we can do to make it better. And changes happen as a result of that.

      What has come out of all of this is we do focus on the hierarchy of controls and our goal is to eliminate manual handling wherever we can. However, there's a very big, fat realisation that we can't eliminate manual handling and that we also need to make sure we're smart when we have to do it. That we do it in a smart way. So there was a real demand for us to develop a manual handling training program. We had to think long and hard about that. Because the research is not in favour of manual handling training. The research does not show that manual handling training has any impact on reducing manual handling injuries. Certainly, the traditional type of manual handling training, where we teach people to lift boxes in classrooms, is completely ineffective and a waste of time and space.

      So we developed a program called Get Your Game On. Which is what you saw in that video. It's been rolled out across all of our businesses. It's a 60 minute manual handling program. It's very unique. It's run by physios. So we do a train the trainer program and I train up physios in each state to roll it out. Its sports based. A coach is identified at each of our sites. The program is based – 60 minutes into four segments.

      The first segment is just what is manual handling? Is every manual handling task going to cause you an injury? Well no, it's not. Not all of them are hazardous. Our bodies are designed to move. Our bodies like to move. Don't be scared of that. When you can't bend your knees and keep your back straight and keep the load close and have a nice, wide, stable base of support, what can you always do? So if you're up a ladder or if you're halfway on and off a forklift, if you're working in a drain; what can you always do to minimise the risk of injury?

      One of the key messages – you can always activate your core. So we then do a session on the floor about teaching people to activate their core. Which gets laughs like you wouldn't believe. The other thing you can always do is think about how you use your body. Switch off autopilot and think about what are my feet doing? Where are my hands? Where am I looking? Do I have three points of contact? So switch off autopilot and think about how you use your body. We use the ball throwing exercise for that. Everyone picks up a ball and throws it around without even thinking about it. While people are throwing balls back and forth, we start to get them to talk to each other about what are your knees doing? Oh, your left foot's in front. My right foot's in front. Does that matter? No, it doesn't. We're still able to do it. We're still able to do it safely. So it really gets people starting to think and observe their own bodies and other people's bodies and they way that they move. The third key message is about take two, which is our quick, mental risk assessment. Take two minutes before you do a task to think about what you're about to do, what can go wrong. What do I need to do safely?

      So they're the key messages. I think Get Your Game On has been an incredibly fun, engaging outcome of this project. I don't know whether it actually contributes to reducing manual handling injuries, but it certainly contributes to a positive culture. It certainly contributes to the guys being engaged. Lots of them have developed warm up programs every day that follow on. They throw footies around before they start work. It's been an incredibly positive cultural project for us.

      There's just a few photos here. You can see how it works. That's me standing in the middle with my – I think I'm in Victoria there, with an AFL ball. We use AFL balls, netballs and rugby balls, depending on the audience. Or a mix of both. That's one of our brick factories. This is our Hebel factory out in the yard. We give the balls away as part of the program. So they're quite coveted items. The guys either keep them and they use them with their teams or they take them home for their families.

      So that program has been really successful, but the benefits are difficult to measure and may or may not be manual handling related. But it's come from the manual handling project.

      So what are the enablers for success from all of this? What allows this program to have achieved the sorts of outcomes that it has? I think that there are lots of them and they are not easy to measure. I've tried my best to break them up into three major categories.

      The first being leadership. It's really important to have management commitment for this to succeed. I think we've probably talked about that. It's really important to have visible leadership. So in terms of doing the manual handling risk assessments, having the site manager or the engineering manager or the line manager involved and engaged and empowering their teams to do the same. All those programs, we often invite the managing directors or the CEOs, the senior people in the business, and they often come along and participate in the program. If they're not able to participate, they certainly are aware of what their sites are doing. When they are on site, they will do safety walks and ask the guys about how are you going with that new conveyor? I saw that you did a risk assessment on driving your forklift. What solutions have you come up with? So there's certainly a really big visible leadership component. I think that's powerful.

      There's a coaching approach to empower people. It's not training. It's not teaching. It's very much coaching. It's informal and it's coaching at the right level and pitching it at the right level. That empowers people to be able to repeat the process. That allows those people to take ownership. From a leadership perspective, I or others who are in leadership roles can follow up and support the program, rather than need to do the program. Which is great.

      Also, I think the setting of targets and objectives around doing how many manual handling risk assessments are you going to do? What are your timeframes for implementing the controls? At a business level or at a site level, as well as at a CSR wide level, has also kept it moving. And kept the focus on it. And it's measured.

      So in terms of engagement, we have ongoing consultation through safety committee minutes and also through the high level CSR reporting. We get the right people involved. There are a few times where I've actually cancelled a risk assessment coaching session because the right people can't be there. Either the site doesn't think it's important to have the task experts in the room, and it absolutely is, or site managers say I'm sorry, I'm too busy. I can't do it today. It's like I'm really sorry. I need you to be there. I can't do it either. So the right people are really important. It's a user friendly process and user friendly tools. We started with tools that weren't user friendly. PErforM turned it into a user friendly process for us. So that's great. It means that there's no intimidation and everyone's happy to do it.

      Keeping it real. So that means we don't use fancy-schmancy, academic risk management language. We never, ever use the word musculoskeletal disorder ever, ever, ever. Sprain or strain is the word that the guys will use. So we use appropriate language. We allow the time for it. I don't turn up wearing high heels and lipstick. You turn up wearing high vis and safety boots and you get amongst it.

      The setting; we do it in their space. We don't book a fancy meeting room somewhere. It's done in their space, in their lunchroom, on the factory floor, wherever the facilities are right in their space. The approach you take is really important for people to feel that they are able to engage and be comfortable and put their ideas on the table; not be shut down. Be taken seriously.

      And celebrating the successes. Whether those sorts of celebrations are just thank yous and well dones and pats on the back. Sharing the measures, the lead and lag successes. Then through more formal awards type processes as well, has been really important. Everyone needs some reward and recognition, no matter how small. And right through the chain. You know, whether it's the peer to peer recognition or whether it's further up the chain.

      And the risk management approach. You can't go wrong if you apply the risk management approach to anything in life. Identify hazard, assess the risk, control it and then review how effective your control is. It's so important. It's really basic and it's really important.

      I'm not going to go through the hierarchy of controls. I think we can spend our time better looking at some real solutions.

      So here's some examples of what we did. This is one of you gyprock factories. This one is in Victoria. This is Rusty. Rusty's job, on the left hand side here – these are bags of basecoat, which is a powder that comes out of this spout here. He keeps his empty bags here. They're 6kg bags on the top of a wheelie bin. He then fills up the spout. He then puts his bag on the – can you all see my mouse as I'm moving it? He then puts his bag on the weighing machine to the left of him and behind him there. Then he puts it on to this fixed pallet. It's a pretty repetitive, manual process and it goes on for an entire shift. So Rusty and a bunch of us sat down and did a manual handling risk assessment. The solutions that we came up with were entirely free. Completely free. Not a cent was spent on this solution. Rusty's incredibly happy. He no longer has a wheelie bin to put his empty bags on. He now has this fold down shelf which the maintenance guys fitted for him. It's at the same height as the spout. The weighing machine was put directly under the spout. So he's not having to lift the bag from under the spout and twist to put it onto the scales. We have a pallet riser and a turntable, which was already sitting, unused, somewhere in the factory. The forklift comes and removes that when it's full. Super-dooper simple solution; cost nothing, improves efficiency and reduces manual handling costs.

      This is our Bradford Insulation business. This photo here on the left, the before photo, makes me feel nauseous. The truck comes in, the curtains are opened, then all those rolls fall out. They have all moved during transit. They come often from Victoria up to Queensland. They expand on the way. They just literally jump out of these trucks. It's horrible. They fall onto the floor, the guys pick up every single roll individually. There's about three different products in that load. They look at the product and they put them into silages according to the product. It takes hours and hours and hours and many guys to do it. They might unload 12 trucks a day. It's horrible. Those rolls weigh between 14kg and 30kg each. So this one took a long time, but this is what we do now. We unitise the rolls. So at the manufacturing end, they come off the line and they get wrapped together into packs of four, six or nine, depending on the job and depending on the product. They are not handled at all. They are only handled with a forklift. So that is an amazing elimination solution. Significant cost and time and effort and management commitment involved in that. That was probably a two year process.

      Questions and Answers

      Audience member: Juliet, you've given us an example of a very cheap, almost free innovation and this one, you've touched on the cost. Have you ever come across any innovation or suggestion where cost or some other apprehension has been experienced by your board or your senior management? Did you have to do the hard sell? What did you do to overcome it?
      Juliet Maynard: Yes. Money is always a challenge. Budgets are set for a 12 month period. That is often one of the barriers. So it often means that the team need to do – or the manager probably needs to do a CapEx [capital expenditure] request. They need to identify what the cost is and then they need to justify that cost. We have found that including the manual handling risk assessment and the film in with the CAPX request and showing that to the executive team or the board, if they're the ones who need to approve – a picture says 1,000 words. That is often what gets it over the line. It certainly adds weight to their request.
      There is also a business case that goes with it, often. So that needs to be presented as well. But the manual handling risk assessment and the video is a real bargaining chip. So yes. There was a lot of money on this. It took us two years to go down this path. I think it was $1.9 million or something. Yeah, it was big. We needed to change our manufacturing end of line processes and the equipment that was used. Our logistics processes needed to change and we needed to design a special grabber for our forklifts. It was not a simple process. So we are still in the process of transitioning unitisation across our entire Bradford business, but it's happening. So there's a really good example of a problem at one site which all the sites have, but one site risk assessment and the solution was implemented everywhere.

      Juliet Maynard:

      So another one. This is something that many of you, I'm sure, experience. It's changing the gas bottles on your forklifts. On the left, they were being changed manually. They were finding that, with the sort of usage they had, they were needing to change them approximately every four hours. It was a pretty continual process. There were eight forklifts on site. So again, an amazing elimination solution. Very simple. They just changed it over to a fuelling station with larger gas bottles. No longer any need to handle the bottles at all. Super simple. Doesn't take a lot of time. Not very expensive. Great. So there's another elimination control.

      This is also in our Bradford business. This is called the ‘Creel area'. These are synthetic fibres that strengthen the paper that goes onto our insulation products. So these bobbins sit in very narrow isles on little – I don't know what you call them. Spikes? They are manually put on, manually removed. The isles were too narrow to use a trolley and the bobbins – the trolley would sit here at the end of the isle and they would have to carry the bobbins down. The bobbins weighed around 9kg each.

      So we looked at automation for this process. We looked at alternative types of paper as elimination controls and it was cost prohibitive. So we didn't go down that path. But if you look at the after photo, the solutions that they implemented were really quite simple. They didn't put bobbins on the top and the bottom. They widened the isles so that the trolley could travel down the isle and they didn't have to walk each bobbin down. You can see how, on the left hand side, they put them on the floor. So they could now use trolleys. Again, a pretty simple solution. We're probably looking at – it's not an ideal solution. It would have been much better if we could have changed the process. But it just wasn't feasible in this instance.

      They went another step with this one. The bobbins – they arrive, they're delivered in these boxes. Again, they were manually removed from the boxes and put on to this trolley. The trolley could only hold six bobbins at a time. They weren't using the bottom layer of the trolley. So our engineering department used a standard hoist with a pendant control and they devised an attachment for the hoist that allowed them to pick up three at a time. So no longer picking ....

      Audience member: Can I just ask you; these couple of examples are great, but it seems like technology is replacing manual effort and human effort in completing these particular tasks. So has that impacted on staffing and resourcing? Instead of having bodies doing these jobs, having this machinery replace large components of a particular task? Or were you able just to reallocate those staffing resources to other parts of the business?
      Juliet Maynard: It hasn't had a huge impact on our head count or our numbers. It's a really good question. It is something that often comes up when you're doing a manual handling risk assessment. People are fearful that they're going to lose their jobs if we implement this whizbang solution. We haven't found that we've had to make people redundant or change our processes very much. Things like that truck example; we might have had 12 people unloading trucks for a whole day. Often, you bring in casuals for that sort of thing. So we have been able to utilise less casuals across our business. We have been able to reallocate people to different roles where the manual handling has reduced to the extent that we need fewer people to do a specific task. So yes.

      Juliet Maynard:

      This is an example at our roof tile factory at Darra. This thing is called a slipper. It weighs 42kg. This man is actually 6'7" and he's quite a big guy; the guy on the left, in the before photo. It's an incredibly delicate, fragile piece of equipment that has to come out of a – it's wedged into a piece of plant that's covered in wet concrete. So it was incredibly awkward. They do it several times a shift. It was a 42kg full, heavy lift. This thing's worth $10,000. So there was a real pressure not to chip it or bang it on the trolley or bang it on the edge of the equipment or drop it. So again, quite a simple solution. We have used a simple hoist. Our engineering guys attached a ring to the slipper so that we could attach the hoist to it. Is now literally just needs to be guided out. I think the hoist was about $400. Yeah, a really good engineering control. Really good engineering control. That has been implemented across our five roof tile factories. Same solution.

      Now this one is in our Bradford Insulation factory. This is the paper that is used to support the insulation product. They're in these massive rolls. I don't know how many tonne they weigh. They used to push them, manually, across the floor and manoeuvre them into position. They are no longer pushed, manoeuvred – they're actually not longer touched. It's now done completely with a mechanical aid. You still need those two guys. This is coming back to your point before. You still need two people to do this task, as they now need to guide it. They need to attach the chains for the lifting aid. But they no longer need to actually push it or lift it. So sometimes you do implement technology and mechanical aids; it doesn't' necessarily mean you reduce your headcount. So people just have to work a bit differently.

      This is another solution. This is here in Queensland at one of our roof tile plants. This is called a slurry pot, which is the colour that goes onto the roof tile. It used to be manually pushed from the line into the pit. Because it can't go down the drain. So it gets pushed into the pit and it was tipped over. We have a force gauge, so we can measure the forces. It's another good way for us to measure whether the implementation of a control is effective by how much the force has been reduced to do something. It was 120kg force to tip this thing over. Too awkward for two people to do it. No room, really, for two people to get in there and do it. So it was a single person force. That's just unacceptable to be asking someone to do that. That's how we've done it forever. So they now no longer have to move the slurry pot. They installed a pump. To empty it out, they simply use the pump. To clean it, they've installed a ball that squirts high pressure water so they can clean it that way and then they pump out the dirty water as well. So they don't even touch it anymore. And it gets pumped to the pit. Now that really effective control – that pump was $726. Again, that's been implemented at all of our factories.

      I have hundreds of solutions I could share with you, but we're running out of time. This is the last one. This is one of our warehouses for our Edmonds product, which is those whirligigs that are pretty popular up here in Queensland that remove the hot air from your house through the ceiling. At our factory in New South Wales where they're manufactured, they have a conveyor to get each individual box onto the truck. So they think it's all good and well. They don't have a huge amount of manual handling to load their truck because they have a conveyor system. Whereas when it gets to the other end and it's unloaded, they don't have a conveyor. So they were having to unload every single box manually and it was a huge task. It took two people three to four hours. So a lot of discussion and a lot of negotiation around palletising the product and wrapping it so that it could be just used with a forklift, put onto the truck; on and off with a forklift. That was six months worth of negotiation between different sites; trying to convince each one of the needs of the other and to change their process. Especially at the loading end. It now takes one person 40 minutes to do that task. There was also logistics considerations, because you loose capacity in the truck when you add pallets.

      Allicia Bailey:

      Thank you so much, Juliet. We did go a little bit over time, but I think it's absolutely worth it, considering those sorts of examples you gave at the end. I think they are pure gold for the participants to actually see real life examples and applications of this type of work. So thank you. Your expertise, I guess, is so evident. For those who can't actually see Juliet, she has pretty much done this whole entire presentation looking at us in the face, which is nice. Not talking to a computer screen. So it's something that you're obviously very experienced in and very passionate ...

      [End of Transcript]

Last updated
14 October 2016

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